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How to Empower Your Relationship

How to Empower Your Relationship

How to Empower Your Relationship

Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP is a marriage counselor, couples therapist, and life coach. Her approach is warm, positive, solution-focused, and all about helping you get to the core issues so that you can grow and move forward confidently. Teresa works with her marriage and couples clients to help them build a positive foundation and experience empowered relationships.

Cultivating positive growth

There comes a time in many relationships when the experiences you are having together make you feel less hopeful about the future of your partnership. Maybe you have been arguing more than you want, or you have been feeling disconnected for some time. When the relationship is no longer something you feel positive about, I suggest taking these steps to empower your relationship and revive the hope you once had. I encourage my clients in marriage and couples counseling to use these skills when beginning the journey of reconnecting and building a better relationship with their partner. 

Set Intentions of Change

The first essential step to empower your relationship is setting your intentions of change. When you feel like things have gotten to a point that you no longer feel satisfied it can be easy to begin the process of acceptance. I encourage my clients to resist accepting any part of life and relationships that they want to be different. Setting your intentions begins with refocusing your mind toward creating change. Start thinking about the things you want to be different. Sit down and start having loving conversations about each of your perspectives so that you are clear and on the same page about what changes you would like to make together.

Keep Communication Positive

I understand that when your relationship is needing some care it can be difficult to communicate with your partner. Many of us lose our cool and engage in negative communication when we feel stuck in the dynamic of the relationship. It is discouraging and sometimes painful to not be fulfilled in your relationship. So, when you are feeling stuck and it is hard to be hopeful, it is important to keep communication positive. Even when you are discussing the changes you want to make, try balancing out the conversation with the things you enjoy and want to stay the same. I encourage you to begin acknowledging your partner’s effort to change, as well as the small successes you have along the way. Consistently tell your partner what you love about them. Positive communication helps you stay motivated and willing to work through setbacks.

Establish & Evaluate Your Relationship Values & Principles

Empowerment will help you find motivation and purpose in your relationship. When you have set your intentions of change and made positive communication a priority, evaluating the values and principles of your relationship is a great next step. We all have personal values and principles that we live by. Relationships should also be based on a foundation of shared values between partners. Some examples are honesty, loyalty, open communication, and spontaneity. Begin thinking and talking about the values that you share with your partner. I suggest writing them down and putting them somewhere visible and accessible for you both to reference and add to the list.

Create Action-Oriented Plans

The last essential step to empowering your relationship is to focus on action-oriented plans. In order to move forward and create lasting change in your relationship, it is important to identify the behaviors and actions that go along with the values you set in place. For example, if one of your values is trust, actions like telling the truth even when it is hard and allowing your partner to have healthy friendships outside of your relationship, communicate and support the value of trust. So for each of your values talk about the ways you put them into action. This way you are both aware of the expectations and how you can communicate your intention of love and support for each other and the relationship.

These first steps to empowerment will allow your hope to return and jump-start the positive changes. 

 

Warmly,

Teresa

 

Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, Teena Evert, Uncategorized, TeenaE

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

You plan your day, meetings, outings, grocery list, and events - but are you taking the time to plan your self-care? We are all busy, but forgetting to take care of yourself is a sure-fire way to burnout and neglect your personal health. Here is a self-care checklist from a therapist and life coach who understands wanting to "balance it all." Read More

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

Teena Evert, MA, LMFT, LAC, PC is an intuitive therapist and coach who specializes in helping her clients achieve transformation in their lives both personally and professionally. She is of great help to busy professionals on a quest to have it all: life satisfaction, a meaningful career, sane work/life balance, and healthy relationships.

Teena encourages you to develop your own unique self-care plan and give yourself the gift of deeply caring for and loving yourself, so you can thrive in a forever changing world.

 

Feeling stressed out?

Everyone experiences stress in life, and as a Life and Career Coach, many of my clients come to me wondering how to better manage it. We actually need stress in order to thrive and continue to actualize as human beings. We also need to be okay with getting out of our own comfort zone so we can learn to thrive in a forever changing world.

The problem with stress is that we can often get stuck in a chronic state of stress that doesn’t allow us to thrive. When we are under too much stress for too long we are living in a state of survival that is headed down a path of self-destruction.

When we can manage the stress in our lives on a regular daily basis we learn to reset our nervous system back to a healthy baseline of rest and relaxation. Rest and relaxation is part of our natural state of being, without it we go into overdrive and lose touch with caring for ourselves, those we love, and the planet.

A self-care checklist is an excellent first step in bringing awareness to how you manage the stress in your life. Notice the areas of your life that need extra attention and begin to develop your own self-care plan.

Physical

_I get adequate sleep every night

_I eat healthy meals regularly

_I drink lots of water throughout the day

_I walk or exercise at least 3 times per week

Relationships

_I keep focused on how I can be more loving and kind with people in my life

_I share appreciation with those I love – friends and family throughout the day

_I am open to resolving conflict in a healthy loving way

_I am able to speak my truth and set loving boundaries with others

Fun and Relaxation

_I have fun on a regular basis

_I laugh freely and easily

_I take breaks for fun and relaxation – I don’t work non-stop

_I have things planned in the future that I look forward to

Physical Environment

_My home is well organized and clean

_I live in a home that I love

_My work environment is well organized and inspiring

_I love my lifestyle – the way I live my life

Emotional Health

_I feel peaceful and happy in my life

_I am pursuing my dreams and living my purpose

_I know my own intrinsic worth and feel loved

_I feel my life has balance and I have plenty of time to do all that I want to do

Spirituality

_I know that I am a spiritual being living in a human body

_I feel a deep connection with my spiritual connection

_I have activities I do on a regular basis that nurture my spiritual life

_I have faith that my life is unfolding exactly as it should for my highest good

Learning how to manage stress in your life is an essential part of skillful living and life satisfaction. It takes practice to know what works best on a regular daily basis. A self-care plan also needs to have some flexibility and adaptability, as it will change throughout the different stages in life, as well as with the seasons of nature.

What’s on your self-care checklist? Share with us below in the comments section.

Wishing you all the best,
Teena

 

Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, Teena Evert, Uncategorized, TeenaE

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

You plan your day, meetings, outings, grocery list, and events - but are you taking the time to plan your self-care? We are all busy, but forgetting to take care of yourself is a sure-fire way to burnout and neglect your personal health. Here is a self-care checklist from a therapist and life coach who understands wanting to "balance it all." Read More

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Recover from a Fight

As a relationship therapist, I have had the opportunity to work with many couples who come looking for answers for their communication woes. How many of us have experienced that gut-wrenching feeling after a fight with our partner? Maybe you don’t feel heard, perhaps you feel like what you have to say about the topic is being misconstrued, or maybe you don’t know how to get your feelings across properly. Many couples who decide to engage in couples counseling are often doing so because they are experiencing unproductive communication, or they are at a loss as to how to resolve the conflict.

What you should know is that there is a better way to communicate, and out of better communication will come resolution to the conflict. Using positive communication skills can also help you find a path forward, and make-up after a fight.

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

Turning conflict into connection can seem like a merely unattainable relationship goal. You might be thinking that it’s not worth the effort to try and even communicate about the conflict because it will just encourage another argument – but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to consciously practice (and I say practice because it can take time) a form of better communication. Not only will it help you recover after a fight, but also strengthen your relationship.

This week on The Love, Happiness and Success blog I am sharing what positive communication steps you can take to heal your relationship after a fight and turn your conflict into connection.

 

 

Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, Teena Evert, Uncategorized, TeenaE

A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm

You plan your day, meetings, outings, grocery list, and events - but are you taking the time to plan your self-care? We are all busy, but forgetting to take care of yourself is a sure-fire way to burnout and neglect your personal health. Here is a self-care checklist from a therapist and life coach who understands wanting to "balance it all." Read More

The Path of Personal Growth: Self Discovery, and Self Acceptance

The Path of Personal Growth: Self Discovery, and Self Acceptance

Who are you, really?

Are you the person you feel like you are?

Are you the person that others see?

Is the real you partially unknown, even to yourself?

Heady questions, I know, but worth considering if your goal is to become a happier, healthier, fully self-actualized person. Many of our life coaching and therapy clients begin their journey with us in a place of frustration. They’re here because they want something more for themselves and their lives, but can’t even get a handle on what “the problem” is that they need to address. They just know that they don’t feel good, and they don’t like the results they’re getting. They’re often asking themselves questions like these: (Can you relate?)

“Why can’t I follow through with the things I know I should do?”

“Why do these things keep happening to me?”

Why can’t I get over my Ex?

“Why can’t I be more organized and on top of things?”

“What am I doing that’ contributing to the issues in my relationship?”

“Why can’t I just be happy with myself and my life?”

“Why do I keep falling into these types of relationships?”

“Why do I get so stressed out?”

“Why do I react this way?”

“Why do people treat me this way?”

Why can’t I get ahead in my career?”

“Why am I always worried about something?”

The Core of Motivation: Frustration + Hope

We could go on and on with the questions. However, at the core of all of these questions is the essence of motivation: frustration + hope. People who ask these questions of themselves, and others, are trying to crack into understanding “the problem” because they hope that self-awareness will then allow them to overcome it. They’re saying, “I’m frustrated wth the results I’m getting, but I know I can be happier, do more, have more satisfying relationships, and get better results from myself and my life — just show me how.”

These “questioners” are so smart, insightful, and correct: Understanding why they do what they do — consciously or subconsciously — is often the very first step in breaking old patterns and launching new ones. If you don’t know what you’re doing that’s creating bad outcomes, how can you ever fix it?

That’s why the first step in the personal growth process is self-discovery. This involves figuring out who you are (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and then using that knowledge to build on your strengths — and even develop new strengths. When we know what we’re doing that’s getting in our own way, then we become empowered to cultivate the positive aspects of ourselves that can help us overcome our limitations, as well as try out the new skills and strategies that will get us better results in every area of life.

What Self Awareness Looks Like, In Action: An Easter Story

Let me give you a very simple (silly, even) example of what I’m talking about: At the time I’m writing this article, it’s shortly after Easter. Like many kind and loving Easter-celebrating parents, since Sunday I’ve been secretly eating my child’s Easter candy while he’s away at school and unable to defend his stash from my chocolate-smeared fingers.

Of course, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons: Aside from making me feel guilty, at my age and activity level I really don’t need to be eating an extra 500 junk-calories a day. I might as well just glue Almond M&M’s and Reece’s cups directly to my thighs, as that would create about the same effect on my body as eating them. Yet every time I walk through the kitchen, there’s that darn Easter basket… with the open bag of candy… uuuuhhhhh. Before I know it I have a mouth full of chocolate, and as I’m giving myself a stern talking to about why I shouldn’t be doing this, I still reach for another handful. What to do?

Know Thyself, and Prosper

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I have a terrible memory. Really. While I aspire to be a super-together person who gets things done, one of the things I need to work around in order to achieve this is my memory.

When I first realized I was different from other people in this way, I felt bad about it. Who wants to be the spacy, forgetful person, right? I would be endlessly frustrated with myself for forgetting appointments, losing things, getting side-tracked, being late to places. If I wasn’t looking at it, I’d forget it existed. I annoyed myself as much as I annoyed others.

I didn’t want this to be true about myself, so when I was younger I avoided the truth. I’d always have an excuse for being late or losing something. Alternatively, I’d just hate myself and beat myself up about being so forgetful. (As if that would help).

But the interesting thing is that as soon as I accepted that I don’t have a very good memory, and that this is just part of who I am — without judging myself for it — I was then empowered to do something constructive with my affliction instead. (This really does relate to Easter candy-stealing. We’ll get there.)

Self Acceptance = Empowerment

Many people believe that “self-acceptance” means settling for mediocrity in themselves. They believe that if they keep beating themselves up and hating themselves for their shortcomings it will somehow encourage them to improve. The opposite is true. Self-awareness and compassionate self-acceptance actually leads to humility, personal responsibility… and consequently, more useful options.

So, for example, when I let go of the delusion that I could rely on my memory to keep track of myself, I had to find new tools if I wanted to have a good life.

I now carry a planner / notebook with me everywhere (here’s my latest personal-organizational tool crush), and if something is said that I need to remember I immediately write it down. On the rare occasions I am notebook-less and something comes up I know I need to remember, I will send an email to myself with my phone.  If I need to take something with me somewhere, I will literally place it next to the door (immediately, while I’m thinking about it) so I’ll see it on my way out. If I need to remember that I need to be somewhere at a certain time, I must set a timer to remind me when it’s time to go. And if I put my keys anywhere else besides on the key hook on my kitchen wall, I might as well have mailed them General Delivery to Argentina. I’ll never see them again. I have about 87 more specific strategies that I use each and every day to keep myself on track, but I won’t bore you with all of them.

BUT, you know what? Because of my heavy reliance on all these compensatory strategies… I actually am a super-together person who gets things done. I’m also pleased to report that I’m no longer embarrassed by this “shortcoming” either. In fact, because of learning about myself, and embracing who and what I am, I’ve actually learned how to turn this quirk of mine into a strength.

Back to the Easter candy: So here we are, in my kitchen, as I’m trying really hard to stay away from my kid’s Easter candy. I run through my self-redirection strategies to see if any of them will work: “I could eat an apple.” “I could drink some water.” “I could imagine my thighs getting lumpy and gross.” Yeah, no. I still wanted the chocolate.

Then, remembering my forgetfulness superpower, I realized that If I put my kid’s Easter basket on top of the refrigerator where I can’t see it, I would forget it was even there. So I did that, and then left the room… and here it is like five hours later and I have not even thought about the candy once until I sat down to start writing this post for you. Super. Power.

I know this is a simple example about one small frustration. However, this is also really what self-awareness looks like in action. Like you, I have many things about me that are true (some strengths, and some liabilities), and I use this knowledge and assorted “hacks” every day to help me be my best self, and get better results in my work, my relationships, and life. I want the same for you.

How to Uncover Your True Self, and Use Your Self-Awareness to Grow

Here’s my point: YOU also have superpowers. You have things that are true about you that you either may not fully know about yet, or that you may know about but want to be different. There may be things that you do without understanding why you do them. You may have automatic reactions to certain situations, and not even know why.

You may feel one way about yourself, but seem totally different to others. (You’d be amazed at how many clients I have who feel so badly about themselves, and yet who are objectively lovely people in every way — beloved both by me and others in their lives.) You may be putting things out in your relationships that others react to, without even being aware of it.

Worst yet, you may judge yourself harshly for the quirks you have, rather than learning how to embrace them, work with them, and even use them to your advantage.

Knowing who you really are, and understanding yourself, is the key to personal development. When you compassionately understand and accept yourself for who you are, all of a sudden you have the chance to develop new strategies and use your strengths to help you balance out your weak spots, in order to help you get the results you want.

If you would like to have a better understanding of yourself so that you have the opportunity to learn and grow, here are some tools to help you get started on this journey of self-discovery:

Keep Asking Those Questions… But Answer Them Too.

We started this post together with a list of “Why” questions that many people ask about themselves. I’ll say to you what I invariably say to my counseling or life coaching clients sooner or later, when they’re trying to figure out the answers to these self-mysteries: “Well, why? What’s your best guess?”

And you know what? When given time, space and opportunity to reflect… they always have remarkable insight into themselves. YOU can do this too. If you have a “why” question about yourself, grab a journal and write down the answer.

If you don’t “know” the answer, write down the possible possibilities. I bet you’ll have at least a few nuggets of useful truth fall out of your head for your trouble.

Get Feedback From Others

There does come a point when self-reflection has limits.

For example, it’s really, really hard to identify something about yourself that legitimately lies outside of your awareness. It’s hard to know what we don’t know, you know? When it comes to deeper self-discovery, it’s essential to have feedback. Here are some possibilities:

Friends: Do you have any friends or family members who don’t just know you really well, but who are insightful and wise, and also brave enough to be straight with you? (In a compassionate, emotionally safe way?) If so, and if you’re ready for honest answers, it might be time to have a sit-down with them.

Challenge yourself to be vulnerable, and say, “You know, I’m not feeling good about this specific part of my life, and I wonder what you see that I might be doing here that are contributing to this situation?” If your friend is brave enough to say it (emotionally mature enough to make you feel safe and cared for while they do) and you’re open enough to receive it, these can be life-changing conversations.

[Caveat: This one only works with someone whose judgment you trust, who knows you well, and who cares about you. Don’t try this with just anyone!]

Counseling or Life Coaching: If you want to dig deeper, you might also establish a relationship with a good counselor or life coach who can help you see yourself more clearly. We are professional versions of the wise, caring, trustworthy and brave friends who will be straight with you, in an emotionally safe way.

A good counselor or coach will also have ways of helping you crack into your own truth, through knowing what questions to ask you, helping you make connections, and using their knowledge of psychology, development, systems and more to help you understand yourself.

An advantage of this approach is that a good counselor or life coach won’t just stop with the “Aha moment.” Self-awareness and insight is only useful if you have a follow-up, “Okay so now what do I do about this” conversation.

For example, my just knowing that my memory doesn’t work well is not particularly helpful to me. My strategies and workarounds are. You deserve the same type of action-oriented roadmap that will lead you forward, and enable you to take positive action to get better results.

Group Therapy: You’d be amazed at the speed and depth of information you can get about yourself from a good group therapy experience. There are different kinds of groups, and not all of them lead to the type of self-awareness we’re talking about here.

For example, support groups (the most common kind of group) are for people who are all having a similar experience and give them a chance to give and receive compassion and advice from each other. Some support groups are run by a therapist, and also offer an educational component as well as compassion and camaraderie.

Other groups are peer-led (meaning they don’t have a professional therapist mediating them) and are simply opportunities to share with caring others, who “get it.” [Side note: We do have an online breakup support group here at Growing Self, that is totally free. It’s a private peer-to-peer Facebook group — get in touch through Facebook to be added to the online breakup support group].

However, a process group is a type of group therapy that’s all about getting feedback, as well as support and encouragement from the group.

A good process group is led by a therapist who is able to ask you the kinds of questions that help you get clarity about yourself, and you’ll also be with other people who are talking about themselves in a similarly honest and authentic way. You’ll have the opportunity to share your feedback of others, for the purpose of their growth, and also receive honest, empowering feedback in an emotionally safe environment.

Especially if you are feeling frustrated by the results you’re getting in your relationships, a good group can be a marvelous way to shine a bright light on the blind spots that you may have. We do have a great process-oriented therapy group here at our practice in Denver. Click here to learn more about our Denver group therapy.

Assessments: Finally, an interesting, fun and often low-cost way to cultivate self-awareness is through assessments. These may take the form of online quizzes or tests. Or if you’re working with a professional therapist, they may have a variety of questionnaires and activities that you can do in order to “get under the hood,” and discover new things about yourself, your strengths, your growth opportunities, and your personality.

One assessment I really like is the VIA “Strengths and Virtues” Inventory. It was born from the strength-based Positive Psychology movement, which places emphasis on growth and change on what’s right about you, as opposed to what’s wrong. This assessment is free, and will show you what your top strengths are so that you can build on them.

Another assessment that might be useful for you is my “What’s Holding You Back” Quiz. This is a free tool that I have developed for you as part of my Happiness Class, and is available on this site. If you want to take it, start by watching the short video to learn about the domains it assesses, (towards the bottom of the page), and then you can take the quiz. Then come back to the video, and l’ll talk you through what your results mean about you.

I sincerely hope that the ideas I’ve shared today resonated with you, and gave you some direction for next steps on YOUR personal journey of growth and change. Do you have questions or comments about anything I’ve shared? Let me know in the comments below — I read them all!

 

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

 

 

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